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The Mystery of Pu'u Koholā

heiau

As we approach the 200th anniversary of the unification of the Hawaiian Islands, much attention is focused on Pu'u Koholā. It was here that Kamehameha built this large heiau before his unification quest. Some call it the "hill of the whale" and some say it resembles a whale. Some have suggested that perhaps the Koholā, the Hawaiian Humpback Whale, was an ʻaumakua of King Kamehameha. Others give a different explanation for the name. Koholā can also mean "chosen day," and there was a belief that the prophesies around Kamehameha and the unification of the islands required consecration of this heiau on a particular day. Hawaiian language and mythology is is filled with kaona, hidden meaning, metaphor. It is possible the name means both. Another puzzling fact: One of Kamehamehaʻs names is Paiʻea. Those of you who watched the movie Whale Rider may recall that the Maori prophet who rode the whale was Paikea, which is how one would say Paiʻea in Maori. Paikea was said to have come from Hawaiki, Hawaiʻi. We may never know the full mystery of this possible connection between Kamehameha The Great and the whales.

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